And not just "the answer," mind you, but The Answer, the unquestioned and unquestionable and infallible answer ... the one that allows for no further discussion or doubt. Ku Klux Klan or white-wine liberal ... is there any setting in which such a longing doesn't rear its head -- some strict and immutable format within or without?
There is no chance of understanding without stricture and structure -- without discipline -- and yet where stricture and structure are relied upon, what chance is there for understanding?
|Jimmy Fortune rides Infallible to victory in the Nell Gwyn at Newmarket
This story out of Washington made me think idly of how the Roman Catholic Church is marginalizing itself with its version of sharia -- the implacable assertion of rules and regs of which only the church has an approved interpretation.
In the Muslim Middle East, sharia is frequently no mere benevolent, strict-daddy theory: Its application has led to killings, keeping young women from school and other quite-practical and ably-excused cruelties.
Wikipedia says of sharia law: "Though interpretations of sharia vary between cultures, in its strictest definition it is considered the infallible law of God -- as opposed to the human interpretation of the laws." "The infallible law of God" and yet Wikipedia's definition also says, "Where it has official status, sharia is interpreted by Islamic judges ...."
Wits, wags and others with two brain cells to rub together point out reasonably (and sometimes with smug glee) that Islamic judges are human beings and hence can offer only a human interpretation of whatever law it is that they consider infallible.
It's a conundrum that afflicts Islam, the Vatican and plain old individuals: The Infallible Answer is invariably fallible. Wits, wags and others with two brain cells to rub together may infer from this observation that there is no infallible answer ... an infallible conclusion about which they can be pretty raucous.
Everything is relative on the one hand and yet, on the other, there is this yearning for The (Immutable) Answer. Anyone who has involved himself/herself seriously in spiritual adventure has felt this lash. Buddhists address the issue by suggesting that a middle way is best -- holding the reins tight but not too tight -- but talk is cheap and, as one Zen teacher observed when asked what the Middle Way meant, "It means the extremes." My bet is that finding a middle way relies utterly on exercising the extremes ... my very own version of sharia.
Discipline, as far as I can figure out, has no inherent virtue: It is simply an acknowledgment of the fact that a lack of discipline has demonstrable and sometimes very unhappy-making consequences. So ... OK ... there is discipline, the stuff that might roughly be defined as doing what you don't want to do. I have my sharia and you have yours. Each of us exercises discipline in a search for happiness ... a The Answer anyone might long for.
And I think it is OK. Exercise a sometimes onerous discipline ... own it ... and clean up the messes that are bound to occur along the way. My sharia is mine. Yours is yours. But laying my sharia off on you is a step too far ... egotistical on the one hand and stupid in the sense that it can never work. Suggestions are one thing, 'answers' are quite another. Come together as brothers and sisters? Sure. But extend some The Answer generalization to one and all? Dumber than a box of rocks, however delicious.
Oh well ... just noodling.